In its Jan. 10 story on the indictment of a former Sacramento city councilman, the California Globe cited GAI’s “Cannabis Cronyism” in its reporting on the “dodgy cannabis business in California.

GAI’s report, issued in 2021, reviewed the politicking behind legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in several states including California. The report showed numerous examples where licensing for dispensaries in those stats was awarded to friends of lawmakers. The newspaper cited our report to show how dispensaries in the state were disproportionately located in low-income areas including in his district.

The former councilman, Sean Lololee, was indicted by the US Justice Department on charges he hired undocumented workers for his grocery store, paying them in “irregular ways and off the books.”

The issue of cannabis dispensaries, though tangential to the indictment, remains big business in the state. The paper cited our findings that:

  • California’s legal recreational and medicinal cannabis industry is not only “the biggest government-sanctioned market in the nation,” but also the “biggest legal marijuana market in the world.”
  • Individual cannabis permits in the state have sold for as much as $17 million.
  • There were more than 7,500 active cannabis licenses in California in 2020, including 910 retail dispensaries.
  • The reach of the unregulated market remains a major concern as estimates have revealed about $8.7 billion in black market sales. Thus, taking legal and illegal sales into account, the California market sold a whopping $12.0 billion in cannabis and related products in 2019.
  • This makes the legal cannabis market in California about $3.3 billion in sales.

The GAI says, “evidence suggests that the current California framework allows for increased corruption in a system where ‘money talks.’”